MSGVarsity.com's "Players to Watch" is a month-long daily series highlighting some of the biggest names you'll be hearing about during the 2013-14 high school sports season. We'll unveil one new player each day in August (including weekend days) until we've covered 30 athletes.
As much as Katelynn Flaherty enjoys dictating the tempo for Point Pleasant Beach, there is a part of the rising senior point guard that’s coy in how she graciously defers to an opposing defense.
Few are as effective attacking the rim than the Garnet Gulls’ elusive 5-7 point guard. The ease in which she shifts gears on the fly and renders defenders helpless to her sudden bursts is the kind of attribute that drives her fearlessly through the lane for either a layup, a trip to the foul line (where she shot 93 percent as a junior) or slick dish to the opposite block. However, when opponents choose to congest the paint to impede that path, Flaherty displays an adaptability that hints at her inquisitive basketball IQ.
The smooth release on her jumper overshadows the nimble footwork which creates the necessary space to let it fly. With her excellent combination of adhesive handle and jab steps, Flaherty builds room for herself to stick a long-range 3-pointer, showing she can bury a trey as effortlessly off the dribble as she does catching and shooting on the kickout.
Heavily recruited by a number of Division 1 programs, Flaherty draws that kind of attention due to the diversity beyond the 30.7 points per game she averaged to top the mighty Shore Conference last winter. Defensively, the same agility that propels her piercing drives denies such bids on the opposite end while her lightning-quick hands routinely dispossess counterparts (3.9 steals per game) and trigger her dominance in transition.
And, the way she fights on the boards (5.4 rpg.) seems to hint that Flaherty has no concern over the height she concedes to those she’s contending with on the glass.
It’s her overall value as a playmaker that was vital in a dramatic turnaround put together by Point Pleasant Beach last season. Along with rising junior standout Marina Mabrey, Flaherty transferred from Manasquan, where the two were instrumental in the Warriors’ run to the 2012 NJSIAA Tournament of Champions title, and instantly elevated a program that was 4-14 the year prior to their arrival into a 26-2 outfit that won the program’s first Group 1 state title.
Flaherty enters her final season with 2,112 career points, just 449 shy of the Shore Conference record of 2,560 established by Point Pleasant Boro’s Kelly Hughes this past season.
Gregg Lerner covers girls basketball for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @gregglerner